New Classrooms and Facilities Welcome Future Pilots, Engineers and Others
PHOTO: The soaring Henry and Louise Timken Atrium welcomes students to the new Aeronautics and Engineering Building expansion. It was funded by a $1.5 million donation from Canton's Timken Foundation.
Modern, open spaces and walls of windows welcome students in Kent State University's College of Aeronautics and Engineering to classrooms, labs and makerspaces in the newly completed, state-of-the-art expansion of the Aeronautics and Engineering Building on the Kent Campus.
This expansion, located on the southwest side of the Aeronautics and Engineering Building, on Kent State's Science Corridor adds more than 40,000 square feet to the facility. The project broke ground in 2021 and was completed this summer, in time to receive students for 2023 Fall Semester classes.
A Growing Space for a Growing College
In 2015, the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology, as it was then called, moved into its new home. "When we moved into it, we were already too big for the space - which was a good thing, but expansion was necessary," said Christina Bloebaum, Ph.D., dean of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering. As part of its growth, the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology became the College of Aeronautics and Engineering in 2017 to better reflect the college.
"We are the only university in the country to offer this unique blend of aeronautics, engineering and technologies together in one college," Bloebaum said.
Bloebaum and Maureen McFarland, Ph.D., associate dean of academic affairs for the college, celebrated the start of classes for the 2023 Fall Semester and the debut of the expansion with a Week of Welcome. A full schedule of events engaged students with faculty, offered fun activities and created opportunities to make new connections.
At the "Doughnuts with Deans" event, Bloebaum and McFarland spoke with students and proudly described the features in the building expansion.
Standing on either side of the student wearing a cap are Dean Christina Bloebaum (right) and Associate Dean Maureen McFarland (left).
"Expansion was absolutely necessary. The college is larger than ever. We now have more than 1,280 students," said Bloebaum. McFarland added, "I think it's our largest freshman class ever, which is so exciting. And they're so nice."
A Place for Collaboration and Innovation
From the large atrium at the entrance, to the specialized labs in the lower level, the spaces feel open and unrestricted, with room for big ideas and productive collaboration. The first floor has several teaching spaces, including a large auditorium that seats about 130 students and is reconfigurable. There are also "pod classrooms" that allow students to break into groups, work together and then come back apart. There's a section of the first floor called "Innovation Way" that continues some of the makerspace labs found in other sections of the building and includes a makerspace, a design lab and a pattern and fabrication lab.
The Bot Bunker
Teaching labs in the lower level focus on electronics, mechatronics and industrial robotics. "Almost everything has to do with robotics, electronics, automation and advanced air mobility. So that's the Bot Bunker," Bloebaum said.
The cyber.domain on the second floor of the expansion features a collection of three teaching and research laboratories focused on the critically important areas of cybersecurity engineering and computer engineering technology. "We have a cyber range, a networking lab, a server lab and research space for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and cybersecurity," Bloebaum said. A "cyber range" is a virtual environment used to help train students in detecting cybersecurity threats.
"In addition to our major spaces," Bloebaum said, "as you can see, when you walk around, there are lots of spaces for students to sit and collaborate."
What Do the Students Think?
Freshman Victoria Richardson and junior Cass Braeutigam were attending the "Doughnuts with Deans" event and shared their impressions of the new space. Richardson, from Southlake, Texas, is in the professional pilot program. She chose Kent State because it was one of the few schools she applied to that had the major she wanted. Also, she said, "It seemed like the best place out of everywhere I had applied."
Her impression of the expansion was: "It seems great. It seems like a very advanced building and a great place to be and learn."
Cass Braeutigam, a junior in the aerospace program (left), and Victoria Richardson, a first-year student in the professional pilot program.
Braeutigam is from Tallmadge, Ohio, and is in the aerospace engineering program. He had the opportunity to watch the expansion being built. "It's very sturdy," he said. "It's very nice. I'm excited for all the opportunities and I like the rooms with all the windows. I'm excited to see all that can happen with it."
And There's Still More to Come
The building expansion will be home to the newest dining spot on the Kent Campus: The Charging Station. It's expected to open after Labor Day and it will offer flatbread pizzas, dessert pizzas, sandwiches, bagels, bagel sandwiches, salads, fruits and a selection of hot and cold beverages. "They are wonderful. We tried all sorts of sandwiches, which can actually be heated up with special toppings because we have an oven," Bloebaum said. There will be a touch-screen ordering system and later an ordering app.
The threshold between the original Aeronautics and Engineering Building and the newly opened building expansion.